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Dallas Museum of Art acquires Mayan effigy vase sold by St. Louis Society

History Blog - Wed, 2015-03-04 07:35

One of the artifacts that was controversially put up for auction by the St. Louis Society of the American Institute for Archaeology last year has been acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s the effigy vase from the Late Classic Era (700-900 A.D.) excavated at Quiriguá, Guatemala, in 1911. According to a December press release from the St. Louis Society, the vase was bought by a university museum, but the DMA is not affiliated with a university so either it passed through another set of hands over the last three months or the release was mistaken.

“We are delighted that the Maya effigy vase, a beautiful work of ancient American art, has found a new home in our institution,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA. “Given the art historical importance of this pre-Columbian vessel, its clearly documented provenance, and its cultural heritage in the Americas, the DMA deemed it important to maintain this historical vase within a public collection, one which offers free access to visitors interested in seeing it and to scholars for research and publication.”

“The vase is a stunning example of Late Classic Maya modeled ceramic art. Its acquisition both advances the DMA’s ancient Americas collection and offers a striking object for appreciating the diversity and refinement of Maya visual representation,” added Kimberly L. Jones, the Museum’s Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of Arts of the Americas.

Quiriguá was first explored by Europeans in 1840 when artist Frederick Catherwood, partner of travel writer John Lloyd Stephens, sought out the rumored ruins on the banks of the Motagua River in southeastern Guatemala in 1840. They found monoliths, altars and a number of obelisk-like stelae elaborately carved on all four sides that remain to this day the tallest ever discovered in the Mayan world. Stela E, dedicated in 771 A.D. by the city-state’s greatest hero, King K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat (meaning Cauac, or Rain/Storm, Sky), is almost 35 feet high and weighs 65 tons. It is the largest stone ever quarried by the Maya and is believed to be the largest free-standing carved monolith in the Americas.

The carving on Stela E celebrated K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat greatest victory, the defeat, capture and beheading of King Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil (18 Rabbit) of Copán. For centuries before then Quiriguá had been a vassal state of Copán, so when Cauac Sky defeated 18 Rabbit in 738 A.D., he won his kingdom’s independence. The victory had larger political implications for the power balance of the region. Copán was allied to the Mayan superpower state of Tikal. Historians believe that Cauac Sky’s rebellion was fomented by Calakmul, Tikal’s rival superpower to the north. After Copán’s defeat, Quiriguá controlled the trade of precious stones and other goods on the lower Montagua River, the main trade route linking the Caribbean and Mayan central America.

K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat ruled from 724 to 785 A.D. In the 37 years between Quiriguá’s independence and the death of the king, he commissioned many of the stelae, zoomorphs, altars, etc. that make the site such a spectacular example of Mayan stonework. He probably got the stonecutters from Copán, in fact, since there is an absence of carved inscriptions in Copán for 20 years after the city’s defeat.

Catherwood’s drawings of the stelae with their hieroglyphs, zoomorphs, kings and Mayan calendar dates coupled with Stephens’ account of their travels introduced the wider public to Mayan art and architecture when they were published the next year in Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. British Diplomat and archaeologist Alfred Percival Maudslay explored Quiriguá on repeated trips in 1881, 1882, 1883 and 1894. He and his team cleared some of the jungle brush to reveal more works and used techniques like making plaster casts of the stone monuments and taking pictures with dry-plate photography (only introduced to the market in 1878). There’s a selection of pictures from Maudslay’s excavations in the Alfred P. Maudslay collection of the Brooklyn Museum. You can also leaf through his pictures, maps and drawings of Quiriguá in volume 2 of Maudslay’s five-volume compendium Biologia Centrali-Americana, or, Contributions to the knowledge of the fauna and flora of Mexico and Central America published in 1889.

In 1909, the St. Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America funded three seasons of fieldwork at Quiriguá by Edgar Hewett, director of the newly-founded School of American Archaeology (SAA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and SAA archaeologist Sylvanus Morley. Hewett and Morley’s excavations cleared even more of the jungle and unearthed two major structures Hewett termed the First and Second Temples. Temple 1 is far more significant architecturally, with complex carvings on the inside and outside walls. Temple 2 is small and sparsley decorated, but it’s the earliest of the structures in the Quiriguá Acropolis and was found to contain artifacts distinctly superior to those found in Temple 1 both in quantity and quality.

According to Morley’s publication of the finds in the March 1913 issue of National Geographic, the most exceptional find from all three seasons of excavations was the effigy vase found in Temple 2 during the 1911-2 season. Discovered broken in more than a dozen pieces, once the object was put back together its quality made it the stand-out piece and for decades it regularly made an appearance in published studies of Mayan art. Hewett and Morley gave the effigy along with a Zapotec figural urn excavated at Monte Albán, Mexico, to the St. Louis Society in gratitude for their funding.

The Maya effigy vase was on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum until 1980 when it was removed to make way for a donation of Mesoamerican artifacts by Morton D. May. The effigy was then put in storage at Washington University until the St. Louis Society decided to sell it at a Bonhams auction in November of last year.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

We’re back….

PainBank - Wed, 2015-03-04 00:51

OMG.  2006 was SOOOOO long ago.  Lots of changes since then, but we are motivated to get started with this again.  A few podcasts have arisen since then, but none (IMO) as true successors to what we created a long, long time ago.  The original audio files and blog posts are still around, so we have those and of course we know the format to create new shows.  Plus lots of changes in the world of the SCA, steel fighting and more.  Lots to talk about and lots to learn.  Lets get it on then!


Kith and Richard

The Pain Bank Podcast

Categories: SCA news sites

Shetland's Up Helly Aa never fails to please

SCAtoday.net - Tue, 2015-03-03 16:55

Winter in Scotland's Shetland Islands can be cold and bleak, but you would never know when the annual Up Helly Aa fire festival lights up the night. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Hello world!

PainBank - Tue, 2015-03-03 16:42

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Categories: SCA news sites

Laurel and Maunche Meetings

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-03 10:34

Photo courtesy of Baroness Cateline la Broderesse

The following message is posted at the request of Her Highness, Princess Etheldreda

Greetings! There will be both a Laurel and Maunche meeting at A&S Championships this weekend. Both will be held in the Game Room. The Maunche meeting will be from 3-3:30 and the Laurel meeting from 3:30-4 pm.

In Service to the East,
Princess Etheldreda

Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences Tagged: Laurel, Maunche

The history of the beard

SCAtoday.net - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:49

Clean-shaven, mustachioed or heavy-bearded, the fashion of men's facial hair has come and gone over the centuries. In a feature article for the Telegraph, Lucinda Hawksley looks at the fashion from Roman times to the Middle Ages.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Quivers and Quarrels: the Known World Archery Newsletter

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-03 08:42

When you access your Kingdom newsletter on the SCA website, you’ll see a folder for Quivers & Quarrels, the Archery Community Newsletter. Q&Q is also freely available for all on the official SCA Q&Q website. The website also hosts several inter-kingdom archery competitions and individual Kingdom Royal Rounds score pages. If you participate in SCA archery, this is the publication and website for you! We interviewed both the founder of the newsletter, Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf, and the current editor, Sayako Enoki.

Sir Jon FitzRauf, photo courtesy of Sir Jon.

Sir Jon, how did the newsletter get started?
When the BoD first announced that the kingdom newsletters could be published in electronic format, I thought that it would useful for the archers of the SCA to have a Society wide archery newsletter that might help to make us a more cohesive group. Therefore, I asked the BoD if newsletters for SCA activities could also be published this way. At the next BoD meeting, they gave permission for the creation of electronic newsletters for SCA activities.

I then contacted the Society Publications Manager to learn what was needed to set up an electronic archery newsletter. After doing that, I sent out posts to some of the SCA archery email groups to find volunteers to edit and run the publication. Since I had absolutely no background in publishing anything, I knew I needed to find people with the proper background.

Our first editor for Quivers and Quarrels was LindaRose Meyers of Caid who said that she had the necessary background. I started putting out requests for articles from my various Society wide archery contacts. We had a good response and the first issue came out in Spring of 2013. LindaRose was the editor until the Fall issue of 2013. The position was taken over by Linda Tsubaki of AnTir with the Summer edition of 2014.

I would like to thank all those that submitted articles to Quivers and Quarrels. And I would request that anyone who has an archery-related article that they would like to see published send it in to Quivers and Quarrels.

Sayako Enoki with her son Nicholas on the archery range.

Sayako, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I don’t have much of an SCA past to speak of. I went to my first event in 1992, and it was a magical experience that captured me. I began my journey into the Dream in the then-Shire of Dragon’s Lair (which later became a Barony) in An Tir. For many years, the SCA was a hobby to pour creative energy into with my friends, and to escape the modern world for weekends here and there. There were a handful of years where the demands of life meant that I didn’t play at all, though the SCA was always a part of me. My adult life has been very, very dominated by modern pursuits and obligations, so I have not had the opportunity to earnestly give in service until recently. My SCA resume is completely bare. I have no awards. I still can’t make it out to many SCA things, but I can sure use my laptop and the internet to give in service to the Known World. The internet is a wonderful, flexible thing.

Beyond archery in the SCA, which I have been doing off and on for about 20 years, I am pretty wicked with a sewing machine. One of my favorite things is introducing newcomers to the idea of learning to make stuff instead of buying it. I am also a lifelong horseperson. I own two horses and dabble with mounted archery. I have enjoyed playing with thrown weapons, I am exploring new skills with leather crafting, and I love to introduce the Dream to those who have never heard of the SCA. Combat archery is at the top of my list of new things to start doing, and I look forward to raising my children in the SCA. Both of them will be in youth armored combat this summer. My daughter will turn six in a few months, and will be a force to reckon with on the eric once she armors up. She’s pretty darn fearless about clobbering the snot out of her older brother. I also bought my eight year-old son his first bow last summer. We haven’t had much opportunity for him to practice, but we have a little archery range in our basement, and summer break is coming.

Tell us about taking over the Q&Q Editor’s position.
I took over as the Chronicler for Quivers & Quarrels in the summer of 2014. It was still a very new publication, having only had three previous issues. I was hesitant at first to apply for the position. I worked on the production side of yellow pages for several years, and I have done volunteer freelance graphic design and technical writing for nonprofit programs. I knew how very time consuming creating a digital magazine would be, but two things really excited me about Quivers & Quarrels. The first was that it is the only free, SCA-wide recurring publication for an entire martial community, and the second was that I would have the freedom to have full creative control. It is rare to find opportunities with such unlimited potential. Putting an edition of Quivers & Quarrels together often drives me insane, but seeing glimpses of its impact on the community is very gratifying, and is its own reward.

I have always struggled with the reality that communities in the SCA tend to be decentralized and disconnected from each other. It’s just the nature of the game that we play, and coordinating a global game through the efforts of volunteers with little funding is necessarily limited. Most of these communities were also established well before the internet and social media became important communication tools. Our communities are most vigorous in local pockets. However, we miss the opportunities that engaging with other local communities can offer because we have had limited means to connect with them. Quivers & Quarrels can help to fill that gap for the archery community. It has quite a ways to go before it is able to touch every archer in the Society, but the potential for Quivers & Quarrels to do a world of constructive good is enormous. It’s that potential that excites me. Strong kinship grows our capacity as a community, and it grows our ability to gain and share knowledge and skills as archers. A publication for the entire archery community can be a powerful and enriching tool, and it is our tool to use as freely and widely as we wish.

We have three main feature sections, and we like to feature each section in every issue as much as possible. We recruit articles for technical knowledge, historical knowledge, and profiles of archers in our local communities who make or have made outstanding contributions to SCA archery programs. We also have sections for editorials and other news, local events, Society-wide competitions, archery challenges, local practices, and photos from the populace of the period items in their kits. When there are enough contributions around a certain genre, we will create a special edition around one topic, like the recent arrow-building special edition. I have discussed merchant listings with our publications manager, and hope to be able to add a merchant section later this year. We also would love to feature photographers and the works of other SCA artisans as they connect their art with the archery community.

We have an active group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/QuiversQuarrels/, where all of the back issues are available in the “files” section. The files section also contains a host of great archery resources, including a reading list. Outside of the Facebook group, Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf and I post each edition as far and wide as possible, including every SCA-archery Facebook group that I have been able to find, and every SCA-archery internet discussion group that Sir Jon has been able to find. It is also available in the newsletters section of www.sca.org, and from www.scores-sca.org/qnq. We strongly encourage archers to share each edition with their local groups so that we can eventually reach everyone. No permission needed. Please share as much as you’d like to, and please let me know if I can assist.

To all who read and support Quivers & Quarrels, thank you! If you’ve never heard of us, welcome! Happy shooting, and I am looking forward to the future.

Categories: SCA news sites

Lead coffin inside stone coffin from Richard III dig opened

History Blog - Tue, 2015-03-03 03:25

When the skeletal remains of King Richard III were found under a Leicester parking lot in two magical weeks September of 2012, the excavation team encountered another four graves in Trench 3 (Richard was found in Trench 1, see map here) on the site of what had once been the Grey Friars’ church. One of them stood out thanks to its limestone sarcophagus which was the first complete medieval stone coffin excavated in Leicester using modern archaeological methods. The other bodies had no surviving caskets, although evidence was found of two of them having been buried in long-decayed wooden coffins. Since the University of Leicester excavation team was under extreme time constraints, there was no question of exploring any other graves than the potential Richard’s at that time.

In July of 2013 the team returned to the Grey Friars site to excavate more of the church and, if possible, lift the stone sarcophagus found in the presbytery. The limestone box was cut in a tapered shape from a single block of limestone. The wider end was carved into a curve on the inside to create a niche for the head. The lid, also carved from limestone, didn’t quite fit and the mortar sealing it to the coffin was damaged. Water was able to get inside the coffin and over the centuries the unbalanced but very heavy lid fractured the sarcophagus extensively.

While they had hoped to lift the sarcophagus whole, archaeologists realized once they’d chiseled away the dirt caked on the sides of the coffin that the stone was too cracked to remain intact during the lifting process. They decided instead to lift the lid and remove it separately first. Nine people used lifting straps to manually raise the lid to ground level. Inside the sarcophagus they found a second coffin, this one made from lead. It was intact except for a hole at the feet where the lead had collapsed inwards.

Now the team had to lift the lead coffin before they could remove the fractured sarcophagus. They did this by dismantling one end of the limestone box, taking it apart piece by piece according to the existing fracture pattern. When they made enough space for it, they slid a wooden board underneath the lead coffin and two people lifted the lead coffin out like they were carrying it on a stretcher. The coffin was then transported to an infirmary so the insides could be explored with an endoscope to make sure there were no preserved soft tissues requiring special conservation conditions. There weren’t any; the remains were fully skeletonized.

Armed with the endoscope data, the team’s next step was opening the lead coffin. There were still intact solder joints that researchers did not want to damage because they could contain information about the construction of the coffin, so instead they decided to cut an opening all around the base of the coffin, lift the lid and sides and leave the skeleton on the lead base. In addition to the skeletal remains, archaeologists found some hair, small fragments of a fragment that looks like linen and a piece of cord. The fabric is probably what’s left of the shroud the deceased was wrapped in while the cord is a piece of the rope used to secure the shroud by tying around the legs.

When the stone sarcophagus was first unearthed, experts thought it might have contained the remains of Sir William de Moton of Peckleton, a knight and former mayor of Leicester who was buried at Grey Friars in 1362. Its location in presbytery of the friary church near the high altar was extremely prestigious, and a stone coffin with a lead coffin inside was an ultra deluxe burial package, a combination only someone with a great deal of wealth and position would be able to secure. Sir William seemed the likeliest candidate at first glance. Documentary research discovered two other possible candidates: leaders of the English Franciscan order Peter Swynsfeld (d. 1272) and William of Nottingham (d. 1330).

Well, throw all of that out because surprise, the skeleton inside the lead coffin is female! She was a woman of means, as confirmed by stable isotope analysis of her bones which found that she ate a high-status, protein-rich diet — game, meat and a great deal of sea fish — only just below Richard III’s adult diet in quality. She was over 60 at time of death and radiocarbon dating found she died in the latter half of the 13th century or in the 14th.

Documentary research found the names of seven women closely associated with the friary. The radiocarbon dating results eliminated three names of women who died in the 16th century. Of the four remaining, the biggest shot was Eleanor, Countess of Leicester, who was a dedicated patron of the friary. She died in France, however, and as far as we know was buried there as well. Of the three remaining women on the list, only one is specifically recorded as having been buried in the church: Emma Holt. All we know is her name and that she was buried in the friary church in 1290 because in September of that year, the Bishop of Lincoln issued an indulgence shaving Purgatory sentences off by 20 days for anyone who would say “a Pater and a Ave for the soul of Emma, wife of John of Holt, whose body is buried in the Franciscan church in Leicester.” There’s no way to confirm is our leaden lady is Emma Holt. There are no known descendants for DNA matching. We don’t know her age at death, her looks or anything else about her that could link her to the skeleton.

Although the identity of the woman who had such significance to the Franciscan order that she was buried in the fanciest casket in the fanciest part of the friary’s church is likely to remain unknown, it is worth noting that she was not the only woman granted the honor of being laid to rest under the feet of praying monks. In the two Grey Friars digs, archaeologists found 10 graves. Five were left undisturbed in place. Five were excavated and the remains examined. One of those five proved to be King Richard III. The other four were all women.

Two of them were inside the choir on the opposite side of it from where Richard was found. They were between 40 and 50 years old at time of death and radiocarbon dating shows indicates they died between 1270 and 1400. One of them had what seems to be a congenital hip dislocation which would have required her to walk with a crutch. The other lived a life of physical labor. Her arms and legs bore the tell-tale sign of regular use in lifting heavy weights. Like the woman in the lead coffin, these ladies also ate a high quality, varied diet rich in proteins.

The fourth female skeleton had been disturbed — note for RM: these were the disarticulated female remains mentioned in the first press conference — so there’s limited information on her, but she too appears to have done hard physical labor in her short life before dying in her early to mid-20s. Since the choir and presbytery would be reserved for important, wealthy people, the fact that two women who did hard labor for years were buried there may suggest the friary’s top donors were not just aristocrats and clerical leaders, but members of the burgeoning middle class of merchants and tradespeople who had money in their pockets but made it by working hard with their hands.

As for the ratio of men to women being so lopsided, as unexpected as that is, it could very well just be a coincidence.

Grey Friars site director Mathew Morris, who led the dig said: “Although it might seem unusual that Richard III is the only male skeleton found inside the Grey Friars church, the other four skeletons all being female, it must be remembered that we have only excavated five of ten identified graves in the church’s chancel with the potential for hundreds more burials elsewhere inside the church, the other friary buildings and outside in the cemetery.

“Excavations of other monastic cemeteries have found ratios ranging from 1:3 to 1:20 woman to men buried, with urban monastic cemeteries typically having greater numbers of women buried in them than rural sites.

“In Leicester, ULAS’s excavation of the medieval parish church of St Peter (today situated beneath the John Lewis store in Leicester’s Highcross retail quarter) found that the burial of men and women inside the church was broadly equal.”

Here’s a brief documentary video of the lead coffin’s removal from the stone sarcophagus in situ and its opening in the laboratory. You can see how they took apart the stone coffin, how they cut the lead with what look like pruning shears and the fragments and remains inside in the lead coffin.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The search for King Harold continues

SCAtoday.net - Mon, 2015-03-02 22:14

Cousins Terry Muff and Kevin McKenzie, who claim King Harold, of Hastings fame, as an ancestor, believe that the remains of the Saxon monarch lie beneath an ancient church in Hertforshire. Ellie Zolfagharifard of the Daily Mail has a feature story. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

200 bodies found in mass graves under Paris supermarket

History Blog - Mon, 2015-03-02 01:47

Archaeologists from France’s National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) have discovered the skeletal remains of more than 200 individuals buried in eight mass graves under the basement of the Monoprix Réaumur-Sébastopol supermarket in Paris. The team was doing an archaeological survey in advance of construction and expected to encounter human remains because the building was known to have been constructed on the site of Trinity Hospital cemetery. The cemetery was in active use from the 12th century through the 17th and was destroyed at the end of the 18th. Its graves were excavated and bones transferred to the Paris catacombs in the second wave of transfers in 1843, then the Félix Potin grocery store was built on the site in 1860. That building was demolished and reconstructed in 1910. The current Monoprix store occupies the ground and first floor of that 1910 Art Nouveau building by architect Charles Lemaresquier.

So after centuries of disuse, revolution, a dedicated municipal program of bone collection and two buildings erected on the site, archaeologists had little expectation of discovering anything more that a few scattered bones. Instead they found well-organized and carefully laid-out mass graves. Seven of the graves contain between five and twenty bodies laid down in two to five layers. The eighth grave is much larger. So far the remains of more than 150 individuals have been unearthed in this one pit. They were deposited with exacting precision in five or six layers. At least two rows of the dead are placed head to toe. A third row appears to continue beyond the perimeters of the current excavation.

“What is surprising is that the bodies were not thrown into the graves but placed there with care. The individuals – men, women and children – were placed head to toe no doubt to save space,” said archeologist Isabelle Abadie.

The bodies appear to have been buried all at the same time, which she said suggested they might have been the victims of the plagues which struck Paris in 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

Whatever mortality crisis struck — plague, other epidemics, famine — it struck wide. There are adults and children of all ages and both sexes buried in the largest mass grave. Initial examination of the bones has found no specific evidence of disease or injury. INRAP archaeologists will attempt to extract DNA samples for the bone which may reveal the presence of fatal pathogens. Other tests on the bones will determine their physical condition at death, if they were malnourished, if they had repetitive strain injuries from hard labor, etc. The remains will be radiocarbon dated to sort out which layers were deposited when.

Researchers hope this excavation and the subsequent study will result in a more thorough understanding of how the living managed bodies in mass-death crises, a clearer picture of the spatial and temporal organization of the cemetery. The team will also study period sources and maps of Paris to find out more about the Trinity Hospital and its cemetery. It’s a rare opportunity to study such a site; fewer than a dozen mass burial sites in France have been subject to a thorough archaeological study, so there isn’t much scholarship on the subject and there is a great deal that remains unknown about funerary practices at cemeteries associated with medieval and early modern hospitals.

Once the study is complete, the state will claim the remains and arrange for reburial.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Around the Society, the Order of Defence Grows

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-03-01 20:33

by William Parris.

Only just recently did Their Royal Majesties announce the premier member of the Æthelmearc Order of Defence, Duchess Dorinda Courtenay. Now, around the Society, new members are being announced and placed on vigil.

Three were named at Estrella War for the Atenveldt Order of Defence: THL Takago, Master Malise, and Duchess Elzbieta. All shall stand vigil at Atenveldt’s Coronation on May 2nd.

Photo by The Virtual Herald

In Northshield, three were also chosen to serve as the premier members; Don Niccolo, Don Ambrose, and Don Piero.

Photo by Wesley Adama

As May 1st draws near, other Kingdoms may reveal their choices as the newest peerage takes firm rooting in the Society.

Categories: SCA news sites

Judging the Pent: An Interview with Baroness Alexandra dei Campagnella

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-03-01 13:16

Baroness Alex, Pent Judge Coordinator

This month features one of the biggest events held in Æthelmearc, The Grand Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon. Whether you go for the fighting, the fencing, the shopping, or just chilling out with friends, there is one thing that sets this event apart from all others: The Arts & Sciences Pentathlon, or the Pent.

For those interested in the arts and sciences of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, a visit to the Pent is a fantastic way to see what folks are interested in and how they’ve made use of what they’ve discovered. Those who enter the Pent know that their documentation, together with their creations, serves as a way to teach others about their areas of interest. But most people don’t take advantage of one of the best opportunities to teach and learn at Ice Dragon: judging!

The Gazette asked the Pent Judge Coordinator, Baroness Alexandra dei Campagnella, a few questions about judging at the Pent.

What qualifications do you need to be a judge? Anyone can be a judge. When looking for “quality judges” I look for people who can do the following: have an understanding of the item being judged and be able to understand the rubrics for that item or the general rubric for those items that do not currently have one. You need to be able to give clear thoughts and reasons for the scores you are marking and constructive comments if there is an area for improvement. Nothing hurts an entrant more than negative comments put poorly. When writing, think about how you would want someone to speak to you. Please take the time to write comments and not just numbers, it helps the entrant understand what number you picked and what they can do to improve upon that area. It is very helpful to have entered A&S before or to be active in A&S, but selection of Judges is not award-based.

What is a Rubric? A rubric is by definition: a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests (merriam-webster.com). In the context that we use it there is a set number of areas the Judge looks at and a defined score for how the item ranks in each of these areas. To see the current rubrics, go here, and scroll down to the Kingdom of Æthelmearc A&S Rubrics.

Do you have to be a Laurel to judge? No you do not have to be a Laurel; however if you are one, please seriously consider judging, It is always nice for the entrants to have comments from the highest caliber in the arts and sciences that our Kingdom offers.

Is there a way for someone with less experience to be matched with a more experienced judge? Yes there is! We have a “shadow” a judge program, where you can be work with a Judge and go over along with them what each of the elements on the judge’s sheet is and what is important for that area. This enables a new person to ask a lot of questions and get a feel for what the Judge does and why.

How much time does it take to judge a category and just what is involved? There is no set time to allot time to allot per entry. Personally, I start with a quick look at the item, then read the documentation. After I’m done reading I compare the item to the documentation and the Rubric and start scoring on the judge’s sheet and writing comments. Some entries I go straight down the sheet, with other items I will jump around scoring the areas that strike me most. On average I spend about 15-20 minutes on an item. Some people will spend more or less depending on the documentation and item.

What is the timing/schedule? The timing is set by the Pent-coordinator and posted on the Ice Dragon Website. At this time there is a tentative schedule, but it may change depending on the number of entries, judges and space.

Why judge? I judge because I like to see what people are doing… what are the Kingdom Artisans up to? I have learned a lot from documentation that I wasn’t aware of; I’ve seen some really amazing processes for making an item; tasted some very yummy food and knock-your-socks-off beverages. The most memorable item I judged was period white face paint. I don’t remember the details of it, just that someone did it and that it was a very “wow” moment for me. The other reason I judge is to encourage people to keep going, keep digging into the documentation out there, keep digging into themselves for more ideas and to perfect what they’ve started. In my view there is no endpoint for art, it just keeps getting better and better.

There seems to be a misperception that you have to commit your entire day if you sign up to judge, and that it will all be very confusing. Don’t let the idea of judging (or entering for that matter) scare you! You are looking at each piece based on the Rubric and the documentation, you are not judging it against anything else on the table. You can also bounce thoughts off your fellow judges in the category.

If you know that you have a limited time, you can request to have only a couple items to look at, and always feel free to ask questions! I will be there all day for the judges and look forward to a fun and successful day.

This year, there are more than 20 categories.  Many judges — preferably, at least 3 per category — are needed. Having so many judges per category ensures that entrants are more likely to receive meaningful commentary on their items.  It also reduces the risk of burn-out by limiting the number of entries that have to be judged in the available timeframe. So consider signing up to judge the Pent – it will be a fun learning experience!

To volunteer to judge, use the judging registration form found here.  A list of Pent categories can be found here.

General event details can be found here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Staffordshire Hoard gallery as never seen before

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2015-03-01 12:40

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard is undoubtedly some of the greatest news in archaeology in the past decade. The incredible collection of Anglo-Saxon gold is on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Now you can watch a time-lapse video of the construction of the exhibit.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Bronze Age hair ring, ingots found in Anglesey

History Blog - Sun, 2015-03-01 07:54

Four Bronze Age artifacts discovered in Wales by a metal detectorist were declared treasure trove at a coroner’s inquest on Wednesday. A gold and silver ring and three fragments of copper ingots were found on farmland in Cwm Cadnant, on the North Wales island of Anglesey, by Philip Cooper in May and June of 2013. Although archaeologists believe the artifacts were buried together as a single hoard, over the centuries they’d been scattered by movements of the earth and farming activities so Cooper found them several meters apart.

The find was reported to Ian Jones, curatorial officer at the Oriel Ynys Môn, an art and history museum in Anglesey, and Roland Flook, curatorial archaeologist at the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. The artifacts were then examined by archaeologists at the National Museum of Wales who determined that the ring is a piece of Bronze Age jewelry known as a hair ring and that the ingots were a shape know as cake form used as raw material in the making of tools and weapons, typically found buried in Late Bronze Age hoards. That puts the date of the hoard at 1000-800 B.C.

The hair ring is made of a bar of gold that was curved and then had silver strip wrapped around the surface horizontally to give it a handsome two-tone striped look. It’s a pennanular design — an incomplete ring — and the terminals are flat. One side of it is heavily worn from repeated use before it was buried. They are commonly found in England, Ireland and Wales, including Anglesey.

A more simple piece made of sheet gold rather than bar and without the silver stripes was discovered at Trearddur during an excavation in advance of construction conducted by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust in October of 2007. Although these adornments are thought to have been worn in the hair, they could also have been worn as earrings with the curved gold bar being inserted into a pierced lobe. The image to the right is the Trearddur hair ring at twice life size, so you can see how it could fit in an ear although it would certainly require a largish hole.

Adam Gwilt, principal curator for prehistory at National Museum Wales, said: “This gold hair-ring is finely made and was once worn by a man or woman of some standing within their community.

“It could have been made of gold from Wales or Ireland. The copper ingot fragments are an important association with the ring.

“It would be interesting to know whether they were transported and exchanged over a long distance by sea, or perhaps smelted from local ores mined at Parys Mountain or The Great Orme.”

They may be able to determine the ingots’ geological origin through isotope analysis and by comparing the concentration of trace elements to known sources of Bronze Age copper ore.

Now that they have officially been declared treasure, the artifacts will be assessed for market by experts and local museums given the chance to acquire them by paying the finder and landowner a finder’s fee in the amount assessed.

Thanks to a £349,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Museum Wales in conjunction with the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru) and The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales (The FED) has established the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories program which will fund the acquisition of artifacts by museums in Wales. The program just began in January of this year and will run through December of 2019.

Oriel Ynys Môn will draw on this fund to secure the hair ring and ingots for its collection where they will join the hair ring found at Trearddur in 2007 that was donated to the museum by the landowner.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Gladiator combat "less about bloodshed and more about drama"

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2015-02-28 12:13

Ancient history expert Prof. Garrett Fagan of Pennsylvania State University knows a lot about gladiators and shared some of his knowledge at a 2014 conference. Included in the discussion was his research on Roman gladiatorial combat, more spectacle than blood bath, he found.

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Categories: SCA news sites

A Brief Survey of SCA Bardic Music

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-02-28 11:22

by Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres.

In my previous article, I touched on the observation that so-called “SCA Bardic music” contains a preponderance of modern music in various forms. There have been countless classes and round tables at Pennsic and elsewhere devoted to discussions of the “types” of songs found within the SCAdian repertoire, which ones are and aren’t “period,” and what the difference is among “Period,” “Perioid,” “Traditional,” “Folk,” “Filk,” and “Original” music in the SCA.

This article is another brief discussion of that topic.

Curiously, a similar discussion broke out recently on the SCA Bards Facebook group (period vs. non-period). While it was presented as a choice, most all the participants took a “yes, and, both” approach to the question. Though there was a huge amount of variation in terms of what people thought enhanced the SCA experience and what people thought detracted.

This is not a discussion of what’s preferable or which types of pieces are appropriate for various settings. That’s topic for another day. This is more of a survey of the sorts of music one can find being performed within the SCA bardic community these days.

Clearly, any music extant from within the scope of the SCA. Period music is diverse, rich, and if performed well or in the right context, accessible to a modern audience. Sometimes venues for period music are harder to find, though for ambient music, it’s almost always appropriate and a pleasant enhancement to a hall. Period music is relatively easy to find, but sometimes it takes a little research to verify that the version you’ve found is documented all the way back to period! Often only the lyrics have survived, so setting them to appropriate music can also be a challenge.

There’s no single term that has been coined for this type of music. Essentially what I mean here is music or songs that “pass” for period, done in a period style, or that we can’t prove were from period but we have reason to believe may be that old. For scholars of period music, these pieces “sound” right or at least evoke the right feeling in their presentation. Near-period can also refer to something that is partly documented, and partly not, or something that is just outside of a period style but is otherwise inoffensive. A lot of broadsides and other extant music qualify within this category, as does the case where someone has created contrefait with a period or near-period tune, or has written a tune for period lyrics. Some also call this “perioid” but that term also gets used for other subsets of original music.

Traditional music is one of the widest practiced and oddly, least accurately presented types of music. It could be thought of as “gateway” music, especially since it’s music that lots of SCAdians learned growing up or in early adulthood, and they are often highly misinformed about its authenticity. Lots of different music from the early 1700s up through the mid-20th-century has been labeled “traditional” because the names of its authors have been lost, or because it got collected by song collectors who did not get attributions, or because it has passed into public domain, or because the singers learned “a version” somewhere and don’t actually know the song’s provenance. The thing about traditional music is that a lot of it is really fun, singable, easy to learn, and easily accessed, so it’s prevalent and often well-received. However, it’s also fairly recognizable. Lots of traditional music also has enormous clues that it’s well post-period. Most Irish and Scottish “traditional” music is quite clearly in this category.

Like “Traditional” music, “folk” music is a frequent gateway to the SCA. These are classic sing-a-longs, some of which really are anonymous, most of which are public domain, many of which were specifically written to be performed anywhere, anytime. But nearly all “folk” music is not more than 200 years old, and, also like its buddy Trad. Folk usually has hallmarks that indicate it’s well post-period. By some definitions, “folk” music is specifically music that arose out of the population of a given region, race, or culture, with no author or, if there is an attributed author, that author “gave” the music to the people (such as Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger). In the case of world folk music, frequently these pieces have been filtered and “Americanized.”

This is the period term for the practice of taking an existing tune and writing new lyrics to it. Broadsides were also composed the same way: by writing lyrics that could be set to popular music of the day (and sometimes more than one tune. It was not unusual for a broadside to list a number of “excellent tunes” to which one might sing the words). The SCA has, somewhat incorrectly, adopted the term “filk” for this practice. There are a number of reasons the term “filk” is controversial, and in fact, offensive, to some.

“Filk” was supposedly a typo once upon a once, when someone trying to put a “folk music circle” into a con program misspelled it. The misspelling stuck. So “filk” as it is used outside of the SCA is not confined to rewritten lyrics to an existing tune. In the Sci-Fi-Fantasy Convention circuit, “Filk” is a catchall term meant to include any and all music of interest to the subculture. But in the SCA, “filk” is also considered by many to be a pejorative term. I believe the major reason it elicits that reaction is that “filk” in the SCA has become synonymous with works that are not as serious, or not as appropriate, or that otherwise “break” the medieval experience for other listeners. I think it’s unfair to paint all “filk” with the same brush, but I’ll cover that another time.

Whatever it’s called, however, the essence of a contrefait is that it takes a tune someone else wrote and rewrites the lyrics. Songs like this are often humorous and fall under the heading of parody, but not all are meant to be funny. However, almost all contrefait with a modern melody do pick the original tune for some reason that puts an ironic or meaningful twist of some kind into the new lyrics. (And that’s often easier said than done.)

I will have a whole article on contrefaits and filk and such at a later date. For now, suffice to say, contrefaits can be “period” if they borrow a tune from period, but since it’s always new lyrics, those are always going to be post-period, but might be perioid.

Original (Historical) / Perioid
There are two segments of original music which have always been around in the SCA, but which continue to grow and change the bardic repertoire. The first of these is the “Historically-inspired” original song. These songs take their topics from period sources, but have been reinterpreted by an SCA artist and repackaged in an original tune. Some also refer to this type of music as “Perioid” – meaning that for most audiences, it “passes” for period even though it was written recently. Many of those tunes are themselves “perioid” in the sense that they evoke the right “feeling,” even if they are not written in a Medieval or Renaissance mode (more on modes in another article!). Sometimes the music and lyrics are more impressionistic, such as a song written from the point-of-view of an historical or legendary figure, and sometimes they tell the story of the original source material in the artist’s own way. These are new songs on old themes, entirely appropriate to the SCA’s area of study.

Original (SCA)
The final type of music is original songs written for and about the SCA’s people, life, culture, and so on. Patriotic songs about kingdoms or local groups, songs that uphold SCA traditions such as Crown Tourney, songs that venerate a particular person (for example on the occasion of a peerage) – these are an act of preserving the history of the SCA itself. As with the historially-inspired songs, they are being written currently, almost always in very basic, singable modes, rather than in courtly or church modes. These songs add to the fabric of the SCA and often help to create the illusion of the “Current Middle Ages” in that they provide a pride of place and character intrinsic to the conceit that “AEthelmearc,” “The East,” “The Midrealm,” and so on, are just as “real” as New York or the United States.

Sylvan Bard,

Without making value judgments as to which type of music is “more” appropriate, since all of them have appropriate places, uses, and audiences, it’s easy to see why so much bardic music “feels” modern. However, consider that original music of both historial or SCA subject matter can be “perioid” – if it’s done well, it can almost pass for period. At the very least, it doesn’t “jar” one out of a medieval context. Some contrefait can be written to actual period tunes, leaving only the lyrics to alert the listener to modern use of language (and again, depending on the lyrics, that may be indistinguishable, too). So the types of music one can encounter really can intermingle.

And regardless of the choice of piece, the three key elements to success for any bard are these:

  1. The material chosen must speak to some emotional grip on the audience;
  2. The performance must move the audience to that emotional place;
  3. The audience must be able to see, hear, and understand the performance.

Without those three things, it doesn’t matter whether the piece is period, perioid, or written last week. And it’s those considerations that dictate the appropriateness of a specific piece for a specific venue.

More on that… in another article

Categories: SCA news sites

Historian finds rare postcard of 1909 shipwreck on eBay

History Blog - Sat, 2015-02-28 07:42

Janet DeVries, local historian and president of the Boynton Beach Historical Society in Palm Beach County, Florida, was browsing eBay on December 19th of last year when she came across a period postcard with a picture of a shipwreck well known to her. It was the wreck of the Norwegian barkentine Coquimbo which ran aground on a reef off Boynton Beach on January 31st, 1909. The postcard had been sent and was postmarked Boynton, August 9th, 1909. The message on the back read:

Boynton Fl. 8/8/09 – Dear Roger. It has ben (sic) a long time since I have heard from you so I wanto (sic) know if you are still living. I have ben (sic) all over hell since I last wrote you but I am home now carpentering. clyde

DeVries clicked the “buy it now” button and acquired the postcard for $10, a bargain considering what a rare testament to the town’s early history it is.

The Coquimbo, an iron-hulled sailing ship with two square-rigged masts forward and schooner rigged mast aft, was carrying a hull full of pine lumber from Gulfport, Mississippi, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, when she hit the reef. The ship’s foghorns awakened guests at the oceanfront Boynton Hotel who hastened to the waterside to see what the commotion was about. The Coquimbo was perched on a sandbar, not sinking, but there were 15 crew members stranded on board, all Scandinavian, including Captain I. Clausen. Locals crossed the canal on a skiff and built a breeches buoy to rescue all 15 men.

The crew couldn’t afford to stay in the hotel so for the next two months they used the ship’s sails to make tents and camped out on the beach while they waited for the steam tugboat that would attempt to dislodge the ship. The tugboat spent days trying to budge the Coquimbo but it wouldn’t move an inch. It was destined to stay where it stood until the ocean waves tore the hull apart.

In 1909 southern Florida was still pioneer country, sparsely populated with limited supplies. The town of Boynton was only 11 years old at the time with a population of less than 700 souls. A ship full of long-leaf pine lumber with beams as long as thirty feet was a figurative gold mine for the settlers. Residents collected the wood that had washed up on the beach, stacking it in piles that reached as high as fifty feet. The lumber, along with the ship’s rigging, tackle, stores and provisions would be sold at auction (scroll down to see the notice) on March 30th, 1909, but the U.S. Marshall who oversaw the sale allowed the Boynton residents to mark the piles they had made and buy them for bargain prices at the auction.

There aren’t many extant photographs of the Coquimbo. DeVries has been actively searching for pictures of the wreck for the past 20 years and this is only the fourth she’s ever found. That it also comes with a reference to the building boom that resulted from the harvesting of the Coquimbo‘s cargo makes it an even rarer historical gem. To flesh out the story behind the postcard, DeVries tried to identify the “Clyde” who had mailed it. From her decades of historical research into the area, she knew that there were only two Clydes in Boynton Beach at that time. One of them was a carpenter who had helped build the hotel, so she thought he was the likely candidate. The dates didn’t pan out, however, so she turned to the second Clyde.

C.O. Miller is best known for creating Boynton’s most enduring and splendid roadside attraction, Rainbow Tropical Gardens. In addition, the master gardener designed the exquisite gardens of the famed Addison Mizner designed Cloister Inn.

Born Clyde O’Brien Miller in 1885, near Logansport, Indiana, Miller worked as a brakeman for the Pennsylvania Railroad before settling in Boynton in 1909.

By following census records, news accounts and government documents, it seems Miller did indeed move about or travel often (as described in his 1909 postcard).

The recipient of the postcard was one Roger C. Middlekauff of Jacksonville, Florida. There’s no further information about him at this time. Keep an eye on the Boynton Beach Historical Society blog for more about Clyde Miller.

The postcard will be added to the documentation of the wreck that DeVries has been compiling for years in order to have the site recognized by the state. What’s left of the Coquimbo was discovered in January of 2013 by free-diver Steve Dennison.

His heart pounded when he saw it: The huge bow of a ghostly ship jutting from the sand as if rising from its watery grave.

The hull that had looked black from the surface was reddish-brown close up, covered with marine organisms. He went down and grabbed the bow, and felt the cold metal underneath the barnacles.

He then saw a metal mast, then another mast, and about 200 feet from the bow he could see the stern and the steering mechanism. The hull was still buried underneath the sand.

It had been exposed by the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy. You can see a slideshow of the wreck here and I’m embedding video of it below. The ship was only visible for a brief three months. When Dennison returned in April it was completely covered in sand again.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

How to research medieval games

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2015-02-27 17:08

In a discussion on Linked In, SCA member Jeff Johnston reports that he has published his research on medieval games on his HubPages website. The article is entitled Researching Medieval Games.

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Categories: SCA news sites

The Omnibus Martial Peerage Movement: an Interview with Duchess Tessa the Huntress

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-02-27 15:40

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope recently sat down with Duchess Tessa the Huntress to discuss the Omnibus Martial Peerage Movement.

Many SCA members were concerned when the Society’s Board of Directors decided at their January meeting not to create the Rapier Peerage that so many people were expecting. A lot of letters were written and many discussions were held on social media about what people thought the BoD should do going forward. One of the options a fair number of gentles suggested was an omnibus martial peerage to cover all of the non-rattan martial arts.

When the BoD surprised everyone by reversing course at their Feb. 2nd meeting and creating the Order of Defence, many people in the other non-rattan martial arts communities, while happy for their friends in rapier, were deeply disappointed that they were once again left out. A few decided to take action, and formed the Martial Peerage Facebook group as a way to organize support for an omnibus martial peerage. The leader in this effort is Æthelmearc’s Earl Marshal, Duchess Tessa the Huntress.

Duchess Tessa joined the SCA in the Canton of Cydllain Downs (Columbia, SC), in the Kingdom of Atlantia, in 1983. She said, “Combat archery and history are what drew me in. I’ve done heavy fighting, helped to start target archery in the southern part of Atlantia, and participated in the first equestrian games in Atlantia in 1985.” She moved to Æthelmearc in A.S. XXXII (1998).

Duchess Tessa in action, photo courtesy of Her Grace.

In 2002, Her Grace became the first Society Deputy Earl Marshal for Combat Archery. In that position, Duchess Tessa reached out to all of the Kingdoms’ archery communities, working with them to create testing procedures, spread the practice of Combat Archery throughout the kingdoms, and standardized combat archery rules across the society. Her Grace was elevated to the Pelican for that work in A.S. XLII. She became Earl Marshal of Æthelmearc in January of A.S. XLVI.

Interspersed with her work in Combat Archery, Her Grace managed to find time to reign as Queen of Æthelmearc three times with her husband, Duke Malcolm Duncan MacEoghainn. She remembers, “When I was Queen last time, there were people in our kingdom who I felt were peers, but because their martial skill was not a rattan weapons form, they didn’t fit in the Chivalry. We tried to see if they could fit in the Laurel. and it became clear that they could for their research, but not for martial skill alone. This meant we had people in several martial communities who we couldn’t recognize [with a peerage]. I felt that was wrong. Since then, I have talked to a lot of people and realized that many people in those communities felt that their activities weren’t as appreciated as others, since their best couldn’t be recognized as peers.”

Sir Jon FitzRauf, photo courtesy of Sir Jon.

Her Grace pointed out that the idea for an omnibus peerage is not new. She explained, “Sir Jon FitzRauf [of the West Kingdom], former Archery Marshal of the Society, wrote the first proposal for an omnibus martial peerage back in 1999. He formed a group to work with him on it, open to anyone. It started with combat archery and target archery, but as he talked to people he realized there were other communities in the same boat, so his proposal grew to include all non-rattan martial activities. That proposal got no response from the BoD, but he has continued working on it and refining it, resubmitting new proposals four more times.”

After the BoD’s announcement of the new Order of Defence, Duchess Tessa said, “When I read the letter from the BOD, it upset me a great deal. I had hoped they would see the big picture and create something that included all martial activities. The part about other martial areas not having the community the fencers did – I believe they could have chosen their words more carefully, and perhaps they didn’t understand how it would affect those of us who do those other martial activities. In my opinion, it said that we weren’t worthy, that we didn’t have the numbers or the community to deserve equal recognition. That disappointed me.”

Her Grace said that, after sleeping on it, “I decided that it was time that I stepped up and helped to make the change that I wanted to see. So, I made a post on my Facebook page and tried to reach out to people in each martial community and across the Society. One of the first people I reached out to was Sir Jon. He started this movement and I wanted him to work with me, if he could. I’ve gotten to meet him, he’s an awesome person. He was thrilled that I had picked up the banner and was running with it. He thanked me for inviting him.”

Tessa decided to create a Facebook group.

She started with Sir Jon and about a dozen people in Æthelmearc, and then reached out to 20 more people in other kingdoms. She still has connections throughout the Society in the archery and CA communities, and others in the initial group had connections with equestrian, thrown weapons, and siege. Her Grace tagged someone in each kingdom, told them what she was doing and why, and asked them to spread the word. Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin set up a link for people to join the group, which the initial members shared. “The first day we had over 100 people. It spread so much quicker than I anticipated, because so many people helped.”

By the third day, the group had members in all 19 Kingdoms of the Society, and it has continued to grow from there. As of the writing of this article, the Martial Peerage Facebook group has over 780 members.

With such a large group, how does Tessa keep the discussions organized and productive? “We have a set mission: an omnibus peerage. We told everyone to keep it polite. At about 400 members we hit growing pains and I couldn’t keep up with all of the different threads, so I asked for suggestions and decided to make topic threads. It made a huge difference, helping to organize the conversations.”

Early on, Mistress Tiercelin created the group’s symbol, a Gothic capital “O” for Omnibus in gold on a purple background. Tessa said it’s been a big hit, noting that “People rally to symbols.” Tiercelin commented, “People were asking for something they could use to show support for the omnibus peerage – not the heraldic badge that will eventually be approved, but just a symbol to show that they are in favor of the creation of the new peerage. It started with a simple O, but then I added symbols for each of our activities. We have a horse for the equestrians, an arrow for the archers, arrow/horse combo for mounted archery, catapult for siege, and axe for thrown weapons.” A few of those symbols are shown here:

Images by Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin.

Tiercelin notes, “So far we have seen the O being used as a Facebook profile picture, a smaller PicBadge on a regular profile picture, and in many forms of belt favors, tokens, brooches, and even earrings. The King and Queen of the East sported arm favors with the O at a recent event. We will have wooden pins available at Ice Dragon [in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael on March 21st] with the various versions; stop by the Equestrian Encampment to pick one up.”

When asked how the group plans to make its case to the Board, Duchess Tessa said, “[One of the things] we have focused on is participation numbers and collecting data on existing awards for our martial activities, trying to show depth and breath.” Master Dirk Edward of Frisia from the Middle Kingdom helped compile the following statistics on current participation among all martial arts in the Society across all of the kingdoms:

  • 9,324 heavy weapons fighters
  • 3, 859 rapier fighters
  • 8,212 target archers
  • 1,349 thrown weapons
  • 667 siege
  • 1316 equestrians
  • 2,454 combat archers

This comes to a total of 13,998 participants in the martial areas that would be covered by the omnibus peerage. Her Grace admits that there is some overlap in people who participate in more than one area, but said these are conservative numbers for target and thrown weapons, and there are still three kingdoms that haven’t reported.

She also noted that “In the past 5 years, all of our martial activities have gained people [except] the heavy community, which has lost participants.” When asked if she thought this is because the Society is aging and heavy weapons combat is hard on the body, Tessa agreed that was possible. She also thinks that in the past few years movies [like Brave and The Hunger Games] have greatly boosted archery numbers.

When asked what she thought the primary objections to an omnibus martial peerage are, Tessa said, “A lot of people mistakenly believe this is about people wanting to get a peerage for themselves. I think at least 3/4 of the people who are in the Martial Peerage Facebook group either don’t want a peerage for themselves or think they will never reach that level, but want to see those they respect and look up to recognized. In my opinion, it’s more about equal acceptance.”

As a result of the group’s discussions, a proposal is being crafted that will be sent to the Board in early March for consideration at their April meeting. While it is still a work in progress that is being developed by a steering committee comprised of people from each kingdom, here are some of its key elements:

  • Martial endeavors other than rattan and rapier have been in the Society for decades. They contribute to the SCA, bring in new people, and make the organization richer. Their numbers mirror the heavy community and are growing every year.
  • Everyone who is a peer deserves to be recognized as one, no matter what martial activity they do.
  • To ensure this, the group proposes that the SCA Board of Directors create an omnibus peerage for all martial activities that fall under the Society Earl Marshal except for rattan and fencing, since they are already recognized by existing peerages. Any new martial arts would be added to this order in the future.
  • This peerage would follow the Laurel model of incorporating all activities on equal footing together. The group has discussed creating rubrics on how to judge someone in a different martial activity.
  • The group is working on proposals for a name and heraldry. Current name candidates include the Order of the Valiance, the Order of the Chimera, and the Order of the Hunt.

Duchess Tessa plans to attend the April BoD meeting, which will be held in Covington, KY on April 18, and says she will do her best to get other members of the group to go, too. She knows this issue is not likely to be decided quickly, but says, “My plan is to present our proposal to the BOD and see what feedback we get from them. I believe the BOD would like to get this resolved, and if they don’t like part of the proposal, they will let us know and may create a committee to look into it. Several kingdoms already have omnibus Grant or AoA level awards for martial activities [like Æthelmearc’s Golden Alce], and I see this following a similar path.”

Duchess Tessa, photo courtesy of Her Grace.

Her Grace says she has been impressed with how well the group has been working together. “Sir Jon has worked with dozens of people on this for years. He should be recognized for his vision and hard work. The Facebook group has the numbers and growth it has because of the people like him who are part of it. They have inspired me. This effort would have no chance of success if we weren’t all working together. I have also been touched by those people who don’t do these activities but have stepped forward to support us. I just want to thank them, too.”

In closing, Duchess Tessa said, “I think it’s important that everyone feels they are welcome in the SCA and that their work and their activity is appreciated. As a Society, we need to make certain those members who have mastered the skills in these martial activities and are peers in every other way can be recognized appropriately as the peers that they are.”

From Sir Jon FitzRauf:

“I first started working on the idea of peerage recognition for the non-rattan martial activities (NRMA) back in 1999. I formed a Yahoo group of like-minded Society members and we put together the first proposal to create a new peerage that would allow recognition of those that excel in the martial activities that were not covered by the Chivalry, the Laurel, or the Pelican. That was presented to the BoD in 2000 and turned down by them.

I have continued working toward this idea for the last fifteen years. Because I believed that there are outstanding individuals that excel in the skills of these activities and who have the required peerage level qualifications who are unable to be recognized for these skills by the Crowns that would wish to do so. Since there is no current peerage that is open to them this excellence, the Crowns are unable to recognize them properly.

The BoD’s recent creation of the Order of the Masters of Defence finally allows the Crowns to recognize the outstanding rapier and cut and thrust participants. Nevertheless, it still left the other non-rattan martial activities without a deserved means of peerage level recognition. However, the discussion brought about by its creation did create further interest and support in the recognition of the NRMA across the Society.

The current Omnibus Peerage Proposal being put forth by Duchess Tessa and our group is based in part on my previous submissions to the BoD. If accepted, it will allow the Crowns to recognize those that are deserving. It will also allow the recognition of any future martial activities that would be recognized by the Marshalate without the BoD having to repeat this entire process again for each new activity.

I strongly suggest that everyone read the Omnibus Proposal and send a letter of support to the BoD.

I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have worked so hard toward obtaining peerage recognition for the NRMA for the last fifteen years. Their efforts and your support may finally make this possible.

Sir Jon FitzRauf, West. OL, OP.

Categories: SCA news sites

Belegarth takes up swords in Chicago

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2015-02-27 13:30

Caleigh Fleming enjoys medieval combat, and also having a safe place to enjoy "nerd" activities, so she helped to bring the Galahad Medieval Combat Society to Columbia University in Chicago. The group takes part in a medieval combat game known as Belegarth. The Columbia Chronicle has the story. (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites